Symbolisms in S. Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio" Book Review by LauraSue

Symbolisms in S. Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio"
Looks at the use of mythological archetypal symbolisms in Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio".
# 153193 | 2,895 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on May 06, 2013 in Literature (American) , Literature (Mythology)

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This paper explains that the numerous, seemingly unconnected, stories in Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio' might appear to be incoherent to the inexperienced reader until she recognizes the mythological archetypes that make the book a unified whole. Next, the author reveals Anderson's use of recurrent themes and images, found in various cultural mythologies, which evoke similar meanings, common emotional and behavioral responses that have comparable cultural purposes called archetypes. The paper concludes that Anderson, in writing "Winesburg, Ohio", unites the beliefs and values of the entire human race with the spiritual and cultural aspirations of the future world. Quotations are included.

From the Paper:

"The similarity to the Christian trial and execution of Jesus is uncanny. Anderson depicts Wing Biddlebaum as an imprisoned bird whose hands beat restlessly. Because of his frightful doubts of himself and his hands, he becomes a grotesque, too. Like the weeds, Wing Biddlebaum's growth in society is stifled by his own view of himself and the view of others. He is seen by the other town's folk as strange and different. But, when George Willard befriends Wing, and Wing confides in George, Wing is "like a fish returned to the brook by the fisherman." Wing forgets his doubts and embraces the Christian emotion of love and brotherhood, the emotion he has repressed since being falsely accused of inappropriately handling his students. The fisherman is an archetype of Jesus, who joins together a people in a common faith.
"Later in the story, Wing dreams of returning to a pastoral Eden, "where young men came to gather about the feet of an old man who sat beneath a tree in a tiny garden and who talked to them." Like the tree of the mustard seed that houses the birds of the world, the tree of Christianity houses a people. And, in Christian ideology the tree is redemptive and forgiving."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 8th ed. Contr. Geoffrey Galt Harpham.Australia: Thompson, 2005.
  • Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio: Text and Criticism. 1919. Ed. John H. Ferres. New York: Penguin, 1996.
  • Guerin, Wilfred L., Earle Labor, Lee Morgan, Jeanne C. Reeseman, John R. Willingham.A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. 4th ed. New York: Oxford, 1999.
  • Rosenberg, Donna. World Mythology: An Anthology of the Great Myths and Epics. 3rd ed. Lincolnwood (Chicago): Contemporary. 1999.
  • b5/Arc

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